SKIP HOAGLAND SPEAKS ABOUT CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE’S POLITICAL CORRUPTION
The recent change election in Myrtle Beach highlighted the change in public opinion concerning our local Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and how it stewards over $32 million in tax dollars.
While concerns in Myrtle Beach continue, residents of Daytona Beach are raising the same concerns about their Convention Visitors Bereau because of a recent contract signed with local Myrtle Beach advertising agency Brandon Advertising.
More on this story at the bottom of our article.
DAYTONA BEACH — The Daytona Beach News Journal reports: “Wide Open Fun,” a new tourism marketing slogan for Daytona Beach that has sparked significant negative reactions from area residents, was the result of a lengthy process involving “rigorous research in front of our target audience,” said Lori Campbell Baker, executive director of the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.“This is very important work to us and we take it very seriously,” said Baker in a meeting Wednesday with The News-Journal’s Editorial Board and other staff members to outline the process behind the selection of the catchphrase. The campaign is the brainchild of the Brandon Agency, a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina-based advertising firm that on Oct. 1 started a two-year contract with the CVB to market the area to potential visitors.The News-Journal’s reporting on the Wide Open Fun concept sparked an avalanche of criticism from readers, including hundreds of online comments and letters to the editor.
In the wake of that response, News-Journal staffers, including Editor Pat Rice and Publisher Bill Offill, met on Wednesday with a group from the CVB: Baker; Kay Galloway, director of marketing and design; Kate Holcomb, director of communications; and Libby Gallant, general manager of Perry’s Ocean Edge Resort in Daytona Beach Shores.
Gallant also is chair of the board of directors of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority, the board that funds and oversees the CVB. The HAAA is one of three tourism ad authorities in Volusia County supported by bed taxes collected by the county from local hotels, campgrounds and short-term vacation rental properties to promote the respective areas as destinations for tourism and special events.
When the HAAA board unanimously approved the new campaign theme on Nov. 14, the decision was based on responses from focus groups conducted in Miami, Orlando and Atlanta by Ormond Beach-based Mid-Florida Marketing & Research, Gallant said. Prior to the HAAA vote, the campaign also had been recommended by the board’s advertising committee, she said.
“We certainly consider the public and respect their opinions, but it’s a board decision,” Gallant said in The News-Journal meeting. She added that it’s possible the board will discuss the negative public reaction at its next meeting, slated for Jan. 21 at Residence Inn by Marriott, 3209 S. Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach Shores.
“We have public meetings and this is open to public discussion,” Gallant said. “I personally am going to go with what the research tells me is right.”
Based on a contract with the HAAA board ratified in September, the ad agency will be paid $200,000 to produce and place ads using the new slogan in various media outlets for the campaign. The agency is paid a monthly retainer of $44,375 that includes media commission, coordination and analytics. Together, that represents an investment of $732,500 for the year-long campaign.
The Brandon Agency will be in Daytona Beach in mid-December to start producing ads for the campaign, Galloway said in Wednesday’s meeting. In addition to creating the campaign, much of the agency’s time and resources will be dedicated to tracking its success online throughout the year and making necessary adjustments to boost audience, Galloway said.
“Our job is to get them (potential visitors) at the beginning (of vacation planning) and drive traffic to the website” at daytonabeach.com, Galloway said. “Everything that we do points them to the website.”
Brandon started its research into the area before pitching its services, Baker said. No local advertising companies submitted applications during the open selection process for an ad agency, a search that emphasized specific experience in tourism marketing, Baker said.
While the notion of a locally generated contest to select a tourism slogan is fun, Baker said, ideas that resonate with area residents — such as the longtime fixture “World’s Most Famous Beach” — have less meaning to tourists with limited knowledge of the area, she said.
“Local residents are not our audience,” Baker said. “We’re looking for people to come from outside the area, to visit our attractions, support our businesses.”
Wide Open Fun is broad enough to be employed in an array of advertising, Baker said.
“The applications are so open,” Baker said. “It’s going to be a template for what we want to tell about the area.”